|Local forecast by
|New All-Time Low Temperature Recorded
|Table of Contents
|NWS Public Information Statement
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service (NWS), Caribou, Maine
11:30 AM EST, Tuesday, February 10, 2009
New All-Time Low Temperature Recorded
On the morning of January 16, as New England was under
the grip of an arctic blast, an all-time low temperature of -50° Fahrenheit
was recorded for Maine. It was recorded at 7:30 a.m. EST at a U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS) stream gauge on the Big Black River near Depot
Mountain in northwestern Aroostook County. The previous record, -48°
Fahrenheit, was set in Van Buren, Maine almost 84 years earlier, on
January 19, 1925.
“It is exciting to be a part of this historic event.” said George
Jacobson, Maine State Climatologist and Member of the State Climate
Extremes Committee (SCEC), the group that vetted this measurement for
consideration as a new all time minimum temperature record for the
State of Maine. “But the real benefit to the State is in good weather
and climate data being recorded daily by the NWS, USGS and other partners
in the scientific community.”
The lowest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. was -80 degrees Fahrenheit
on January 23, 1971 at Prospect Creek, Alaska, according the National
Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The lowest temperature recorded in the
lower 48 states was -70 egress Fahrenheit on January 20, 1954 at Rogers
The existence of this temperature sensor owes to the partnership between
the NWS Weather Forecast Offices in Caribou
and Gray, and the USGS Maine Water Science Center in Augusta. This
partnership resulted in installation of NWS supplied air temperature
sensors on many existing NWS river forecast points and USGS stream
gauges over the past several years. The aim of this partnership was
to better serve society’s needs for high quality weather, water, and
Increasingly, partnerships such as this between the NWS and USGS are
being founded to leverage resources used in weather, water, and climate
research to better meet the public’s needs. This leverage has resulted
in the nearly fourfold increase in the number of temperature reporting
stations across the state of Maine between 1925 and 2009.
The process of challenging a state record is comprehensive. The initial
report is considered unofficial until a review of the equipment and
data is conducted by the State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) as
to the validity of the report. These findings are submitted to the
Director of the National Climatic Data Center for recommendation. The
State Climate Extremes Committee includes: the National Weather Service,
the State Climatologist, the Northeast Regional Climate Center, and
the National Climatic Data Center.
Here is a brief summary of the process:
- State Climate Extreme Committee activated.
- SCEC conference call examined all available data.
- Two temperature sensors and a data logger sent to the USGS
Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility for testing.
- Temperature sensors and data logger tested to a low of -50 degrees
Celsius (-58.0 degrees Fahrenheit). Sensors performed within their
specified accuracy of plus/minus .2 degrees Celsius over the entire
- SCEC reconvened. A vote was called for recommending the -45.3 degrees
Celsius (-50 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature recorded at the Big
Black River be submitted to the National Climatic Data Center as
a new statewide all-time record low temperature for Maine. The vote
for recommendation was unanimous.
- NCDC Director approved SCEC recommendation.
|Timeline of Events
01/19/1925 – W.H. Scott, a weather observer for the USDA, Weather Bureau,
records a temperature of -48° Fahrenheit. Other notable temperatures
from the area on that date were: -43° at Houlton, -41° at Presque Isle
and Millinocket and -32° at Old Town and Winslow (all temperatures
10/1/1983 – USGS station 01010070 begins reporting
river data for the Big Black River near Depot Mountain, in northwestern
Aroostook County, Maine.
08/17/2005 – NWS temperature sensor installed.
07/26/2007 – Temperature sensor upgraded to current configuration.
01/06/2009 – Temperature sensor checked for accuracy by USGS.
– Temperature sensor records -45.3° Celsius (-50° Fahrenheit).
– NWS issues Public Information Statement advising of a potential new
statewide all time record low temperature.
01/16/2009 – State Climate
Extreme Committee (SCEC) activated.
01/21/2009 – SCEC conference
call examines all available data. Operating range of temperature sensor
01/23/2009 – Two temperature sensors and data logger
sent to the USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility for testing.
– Temperature Sensors and data logger tested to a low temperature of
-50.0° Celsius (-58° Fahrenheit). Sensors perform within their specified
accuracy of ± 0.2° Celsius over entire temperature test range.
– SCEC reconvenes. A vote was called for recommending that the -45.3°
(-50° Fahrenheit) temperature recorded at the Big Black River
be submitted to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) as a new statewide
all-time record low temperature for Maine. The SCEC vote for recommendation
02/04/2009 – NCDC Director approves SCEC recommendation. .
|Temperatures Across Maine, 16
These were the preliminary temperature reports from January 16, 2009.
- First, a map showing temperatures reported across Maine.
- Second is a listing of these reports..
LOCATION MIN TEMPS TIME/DATE COMMENTS
BIG BLACK RIVER -50 731 AM 1/16 USGS BBRM1
NINEMILE BRIDGE -48 841 AM 1/16 USGS NINM1
ALLAGASH -47 722 AM 1/16 COOP ALGM1
DICKEY -45 833 AM 1/16 USGS DICM1
LILLE -45 717 AM 1/16 AR034
MASARDIS -45 840 AM 1/16 USGS MASM1
CLAYTON LAKE -44 832 AM 1/16 COOP CLTM1
GRAND ISLE -44 722 AM 1/16 SPOTTER
OXBOW -43 842 AM 1/16 COOP OXBM1
FORT KENT MILLS -41 853 AM 1/16 AR054
STOCKHOLM -41 717 AM 1/16 SPOTTER
VAN BUREN -41 845 AM 1/16 COOP VANM1
EAGLE LAKE -40 902 AM 1/16 COOP EGLM1
FORT KENT -40 851 AM 1/16 COOP FISM1
FOX BROOK -40 835 AM 1/16 COOP FOXM1
PRESQUE ISLE -39 758 AM 1/16 AWOS KPQI
LIMESTONE -38 917 AM 1/16 COOP LIZM1
CARIBOU WFO -37 718 AM 1/16 ASOS KCAR
MADAWASKA -37 832 AM 1/16 AR037
SHERMAN -37 902 AM 1/16 AR072
HOULTON -35 838 AM 1/16 ASOS KHUL
LIMESTONE -35 717 AM 1/16 AR035
FRENCHVILLE -30 835 AM 1/16 ASOS KFVE
ASHLAND -28 716 AM 1/16 SPOTTER
KNOWLES CORNER -18 839 AM 1/16 COOP KNCM1
WALTHAM -30 725 AM 1/16 SPOTTER
PENOBSCOT -20 717 AM 1/16 HA037
BAR HARBOR -15 831 AM 1/16 AWOS KBHB
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK -10 830 AM 1/16 COOP ANPM1
PROSPECT HARBOR -10 842 AM 1/16 COOP PPHM1
STONINGTON RAINWISE -5 844 AM 1/16 COOP STOM1
GRINDSTONE -38 837 AM 1/16 USGS GRNM1
SHIN POND -38 843 AM 1/16 USGS SBSM1
CORINNA -31 852 AM 1/16 COOP CORM1
OLD TOWN -30 841 AM 1/16 COOP OLDM1
MATTAWAMKEAG -29 840 AM 1/16 USGS MATM1
WEST ENFIELD -28 845 AM 1/16 USGS WENM1
BANGOR -24 831 AM 1/16 ASOS KBGR
MILLINOCKET -24 841 AM 1/16 ASOS KMLT
PATTEN -24 842 AM 1/16 COOP PATM1
SUNKHAZE N.W.R. -22 843 AM 1/16 COOP SHZM1
DIXMONT -12 833 AM 1/16 COOP DIXM1
KOKADJO -39 839 AM 1/16 COOP KKJM1
ABBOT VILLAGE -37 811 AM 1/16 USGS ABTM1
BLANCHARD -35 831 AM 1/16 USGS BLAM1
GUILFORD -35 723 AM 1/16 COOP GULM1
RIPOGENUS DAM -35 843 AM 1/16 COOP RIPM1
SEBEC LAKE -32 838 AM 1/16 COOP GREM1
DOVER-FOXCROFT -31 852 AM 1/16 COOP DFXM1
MILO -24 851 AM 1/16 COOP MLDM1
GREENVILLE -21 837 AM 1/16 ASOS KGNR
SAINT AURELIE -44 844 AM 1/16 COOP STAM1
TURNER BROOK RAWS -38 845 AM 1/16 COOP TNBM1
DANFORTH -35 833 AM 1/16 COOP DANM1
WESLEY -31 845 AM 1/16 USGS WSLM1
CHERRYFIELD -28 831 AM 1/16 USGS CFDM1
EPPING -26 835 AM 1/16 USGS EPPM1
MOOSEHORN N.W.R. -26 841 AM 1/16 COOP MWRM1
MACHIAS -25 840 AM 1/16 USGS MACM1
DENNYSVILLE -24 834 AM 1/16 USGS DVLM1
PRINCETON -22 842 AM 1/16 COOP PNNM1
WHITING -21 801 AM 1/16 WS038
GRAND LAKE STREAM -20 836 AM 1/16 COOP GLSM1
TOPSFIELD -20 852 AM 1/16 COOP TOPM1
WAITE -20 722 AM 1/16 WS034
EAST MACHIAS -18 852 AM 1/16 COOP ESTM1
JONESBORO -14 838 AM 1/16 COOP JONM1
JONESPORT RAINWISE -13 839 AM 1/16 COOP JPTM1
CUTLER RAINWISE -12 833 AM 1/16 COOP CUTM1
MILBRIDGE -12 723 AM 1/16 WS031
EASTPORT -9 834 AM 1/16 COOP EPOM1
|Other Extremes of Interest
United States Extreme Temperatures
- Maximum 134°F (56.7°C) July 10, 1913 at Greenland Ranch, CA
- Minimum -80°F (-62.2°C) January 23, 1971 at Prospect Creek,
- Contiguous 48 Minimum -70°F (-56.5 °C) January 20, 1954 at
Rogers Pass, MT
New England Extreme Temperatures
- Maximum 107°F (41.7°C) August 2, 1975 at New Bedford & Chester,
- Minimum -50°F (-45.3°C) December 30, 1933 at Bloomfield, VT and January 16, 2009
at Big Black River, ME
Maine Record Extreme Temperatures
- Maximum 105°F (40.6°C) July 10, 1911 at North Bridgton, ME
- Minimum -50°F (-45.3°C) January 16, 2009 at Big Black River,
|Extremes for Maine Towns / Cities
Extremes are available for over 40 Maine towns and cities by using
our NOWData web query.
Go to either the WFO
interface depending on where
the place of interest lies.
First choose the Record Extremes radio button under "1. Product >>."
Next, choose a town / city from the menu under "2. Location >>."
Choose the weather element you have interested in under "3. Variable
Choose "Entire Year" under "4. Month >>."
Most Importantly: choose "Highest" or ":Lowest" appropriately
under "5. High/Low" for the weather element chosen. For example: if
you have chosen "Min Temperature" under "3. Variable >>" then you want
to select "Lowest" under "5. High/Low >>." Why? Because you want the
lowest recorded min temperature, not the highest. If you had
selected "Max Temperature" then you would want "Highest."
Finally, press the "Go" button under "6. View >>."
|Where is the Big Black River?
The Big Black River is located in northwestern Aroostook County. A
tributary of the upper St. John River, it originates in the province
of Quebec, Canada. It enters Maine halfway between Depot Mountain and
the St. Pamphile Checkpoint. It ends in the St. John River, joining
27 miles upstream from Dickey.
The USGS stream gauge in question is located near where the Depot
Rd. crosses the Big Black River, about two miles from the Canadian border.
For its exact pinpoint location, see the
USGS web site for its associated
. For info about the gauge and the data it collects see its USGS
The following map will help to place this remote location for you. The location of the gauge is indicated by the red pin. Use the map's zoom feature take a closer look, if you so desire.
View Larger Map
The gauge is in a huge tract of uninhabited Maine wilderness. According
to the 2000 census, only 27 people live in the gauge's census block
group, represented on the U.S. Census Bureau map below. Surprisingly, 11 of those people live within a five mile radius of the gauge.
This census block group's population density is much less that 1 person per square mile. Compare
this to Aroostook County, with 11 persons per square mile and 41
persons per square mile for all of Maine.
See the Census Bureau's interactive
for complete details.
The town of Saint-Pampile, Quebec, Canada is only about four miles
from the gauge. It had a population of 2,847 in 2001, according to
|New England All-Time Lows
|U.S. All-Time Lows
|U.S. All-Time Highs
|Photo of the Gauge Site
What does it look like? Here is a photo of the gauge's site. The non-weatherproof electronics for the
various sensors and communications gear are situated in the building. The sensors are outside the building.
The only sensor shown here is the small cylindrical snow capped finned object on the right side of the building.
That is the temperature sensor.
View Larger Photo
|NWS Use of the Gauge
Why is it important to have stream gauges out in the middle of nowhere?
One specific use for us in the National Weather Service is for flood
prediction. Gauges all along a river system, from its headwaters
on down, contribute to the success of our flood predictions.
For this purpose, the gauge's ability to measure water level is
most important. Other sensors, such as the temperature sensor, (which
is getting all the attention here), are used for ancillary purposes.
The temperature, for example, helps judge snow melt rates, an
important factor in spring flooding.